The applicability of the emerging non-destructive technique, proton transfer reaction mass spectrometry (PTR-MS), was explored for the first time in the quality control of saffron. Monitoring of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) was achieved using a minute sample (35 mg). Fresh saffron was stored under selected conditions (25 and 40°C, aw = 0.64) over a five weeks period to produce lower quality material, which was used to prepare mixtures with fresh saffron. Analysis showed that the VOCs fingerprint changed upon storage, and the concentration of initially dominant VOC safranal decreased progressively. Examination of calculated and recorded fingerprints for various admixtures showed that PTR-MS VOCs analysis, in combination with chemometrics, could be used to screen for the presence of lower quality saffron in a commercial product in a few minutes. The technique can be used in a complementary fashion, adding to the battery of advanced analytical techniques available to address the quality and authenticity issues of saffron.
- Bulk saffron adulterants
- Saffron volatiles